By Brian Tessmann, QDO President
It is important as we look over the past 12 months that many of the ‘surprises’ be put in perspective. While some of the global political events have caused considerable angst for some, they represent a clear change in direction that puts our current elected representatives on notice that the status quo will not stand. For instance, Britain voting to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump in the United States Presidential election came as a surprise to the ‘experts’ and described ‘political establishment’, however others saw the results as a manifestation of long term dissatisfaction with governments. Voters are sending a clear message that they are sick of the major parties ignoring the real issues that matter to and affect ‘grass root’ communities.
Likewise in Australia while we saw the Coalition Government returned with a decreased majority at the expense of a growing band of minor party vote. This is a trend may well continue at state and federal level that needs to be heeded by the larger parties.
From dairy’s point of view we congratulate the re-elected Turnbul government and particularly Barnaby Joyce for sticking to its promise and introducing a bill into parliament to introduce an effects test into competition law. Once passed, this, in combination with unfair contract provisions overseen by an improved rural focused section of the ACCC, should help make the domestic market fairer for all players.
During the year we saw the collapse of farm gate milk prices in Victoria combined with some serious internal issues at the processor Murray Goulburn. This was not an extraordinary fall by world milk standards, but it had a profound impact on southern farmers. While this was a shock to some, for many it was expected when considered against the weakening the domestic market that exposes the industry of international movements.
Overall, while 2016 has been a year of building hope it also contained some surprising events and difficult lessons. The real question now is whether our dairy industry can learn from these lessons.